Biased points of view in stories

A bias written in a story, either intentionally or unintentionally is powerful. If done consciously as a character’s trait, an author should try to integrate that bias into the narrative - if done seamlessly, the reader will accept the character and will continue reading the story.

If a character’s bias becomes the defining trait that overwhelms everything else, the author runs the risk of turning off their readers. A bias, for bias’ sake usually ends up being this overwhelming nature just because a “natural” bias is a part of the character but not the determinate of said character.

The characters in To Kill a Mockingbird exhibited bias but readers, even today, still enjoy the book because the story is not solely defined by that bias.

Bias’ effect on your reader has nothing to do with the genre you are writing because bias affects everyone in different ways. Cat lovers may not like that your character hates cats but they can still love the character if you write a more in-depth character. If all they see in your character is that she hates cats then cat lovers might not be able to read your story. I hope this conveys what I’m trying to say; articulation is sometimes elusive to me.


I think @FairyGodfeather 's position is more of a: “I can not support authors with known biases that change’s her perception of their work(s).”

Orson Scott Card’s known anti-gay bias is a position that colors my reading of his works. There is no escaping that fact for me as a person. I can acknowledge his writing ability and success but I won’t be a part of it - this is a decision that we all make as individuals and should be respected as such.

@FairyGodfeather - I hope I 'read" your post correctly in tone and meaning.

Edit :dolphin: because they are “colorful and fun”


Agreed fully.

I find that just because I don’t agree with an author does not make that author any less of a good author, just not one that I would enjoy. I myself like a realistic type character so them having different views and what not would not phase me. Reading about a racist character well, I mean I was forced to read a history book so I’m not really bothered. I do draw the line though (like Zolataya) said when a author is against something and it shows in his/her works, that’s where I stop supporting and turn an eye.


Hmm…a narrow minded narrator could be fun. It could be a great way to make your narrator feel real, complete, and specific. In two little lines I got a decent feel for the OP’s Jane.

That also might be the trouble with doing it in a CoG setting. We the readers and fans might have a hard time enjoying a story, and bonding with a character who has very strong beliefs that we don’t want them to have.

If I wanted to play a cat lover I might have a hard time playing Jane if she’s forever fantasizing about punting tabbies down the stairs.

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Everyone has at least a bias. Don’t try to deny it. :wink: You either clearly know it, or unconsciously show it. It’s what makes a human, human. It’s how you deal with, so called “negative biases” that matters.

Is the POV-in-question going to deal with it? Is some other character going to address it? Does that bias drive the story? What is the the message you are sending out, whether intentional or not? These are what matter. Well, what I feel matters, anyway.


I recently re-read Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead – which I think are two extraordinary books, some of the best in science fiction – and was struck by how strongly the books themselves clash with Card’s public stance on LGBT issues. It’s not just that he’s a very good writer (though in those books, he certainly is). The books’ core theme is one of inclusion, getting past fear of the outsider, allowing compassion to radically broaden one’s views of what’s “natural”. It’s like Card the young writer is actively arguing with Card the older bigot. (The fact that one alien species are called “buggers” would be too on-the-nose if there was any way it was intentional.)

Anyway, on the thread’s core question, Lolita is one of the finest books ever written, and Humbert Humbert an extraordinary POV character in part because he’s a monster. The difference between it and a cheap pedophilia fantasy (besides the quality of the prose) is that the world/story/plot doesn’t reinforce the narrator’s POV; the bias of the narrator, while powerful, is not more powerful than various realities that impinge on him. Go and write likewise. (Though the Apple Store may not be ready for Choice of the Nymphet, however artistically meritorious)

If you made your intentions clear and engaged constructively with critics? Probably. No guarantees, but probably. :slight_smile:


I am in total agreement on your assessment here - the US Marine Corp has Ender’s Game on their reading list for both officers and rank-and-file members:

The book is recommended for [quote] “provid[ing] useful allegories to explain why militaries do what they do in a particularly effective shorthand way.”[/quote] and it offers [quote]"lessons in training methodology, leadership, and ethics as well […] [/quote] Ender’s Game has been a stalwart item on the Marine Corps Reading List since its inception.

Regardless of what the book offers, I still won’t go back and read it again due to the current stance he takes. His outside stances interfere with my ability to read his works going forward.

I think there’s also a very subtle but equally effective level of bias that can be carried through narration, when seeing something from one character’s eyes - whether within a CS work or in a linear format.

So much of what we see is interpretation. If you’ll forgive pulling from Shaw: “The liar’s punishment is, not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.” So, you know, to a dishonest character, everyone else is CLEARLY not being truthful - even when they essentially are. Whereas a more plain-‘truth’ character might gloss over or rationalise discrepancies in others’ accounts. The reader wouldn’t necessarily even realise how much of the view is opinion and how much is actual, somewhat less biased reporting of perceived facts.

If it’s done subtly, it can be almost unnoticeable until a point of crisis, where reality suddenly doesn’t agree with perception. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy Diana Wynne Jones - as she wrote primarily for children the issue isn’t always quite so blatant, but loads of her books (from Conrad’s Fate to Witch Week to Homeward Bounders and on out) are about the clash of perceptions, characters, and then events - very much in that order.

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Ah sorry there. I was meaning generalised you, as in I’ve sometimes seen people use it as a defense. Not you Lycoris ‘you’.

I think in a several points of view book, you shouldn’t have an issue with having biased points of view.

Authors beliefs do sway me away from reading. But I think that’s something each person judges on their own. Does the merit of the work outweigh the views of the writer, if such views aren’t obvious within the book?

But also, I just don’t like reading hate-filled bigoted protagonists. I read novels, and interactive fiction for pleasure. It’s not enjoyable to read that sort of stuff for me, so I don’t read it.

I do sometimes read books with protagonists I dislike, but it’s rare.


Alright there, thank you very much for your opinions! :blush: I have been a bit busy with exams and I couldn’t reply at all, but they are over :tada:

Now, what if the characters have problematic thoughts, like… suicide idealization? If the protagonist of the story happens to have that kind of dark reflections because they are in the middle of a very rocky path and/or something severe happens to them, can I write such dark stuff?

Also… can I use actual messages I got from real life? Some time ago I had the disgrace to get to know a rude oaf who made comments that could be classified as transphobic and the kind of stuff that makes you think “this person can’t be serious!”. Of course, I would change names and all the things that could identify them (work place, where they live, etc.), so… I can use that, right? Because I have a little project, and they would be useful…

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Well personaly its not something I would mind reading about but I can see how it could bother some. Nobody is forced to read your work but a warning that it speak of suicide couldnt hurt. I also think that any kind of character can be interesting to read about if its written right. After all your work doesnt seem to be “our” story but the story of multiple persons and this is perfect for the situation. We dont have to bond with every characters if we absolutely dislike them because we still control their actions and nothing stop us from leading them to their downfall just like how we can follow a path of self-destructions in certain games (now I’m using the racist jane as a reference tho). When we understand that its not our story it become easier to read and follow the story. I dont like Hannibal as a person but the books are pretty dang good if you see what I mean.

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